The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs), increased 0.1% in March 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

While this is a significant improvement on the 4.9% contraction in February, in seasonally adjusted terms, demand is still down 1.5% over the past year.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), rose by 3.1% year-on-year in March 2019. Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for 11 out of the last 12 months.

Demand for air cargo continues to face significant headwinds, IATA pointed out, with global trade volumes having fallen by 1% over the past year and global economic activity and consumer confidence continuing to weaken.

Furthermore, the export order component of the global manufacturers Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) has indicated falling global export orders since September 2018.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO, said: “Year-on-year demand for air freight edged back into positive territory in March with 0.1% growth. After four consecutive months of contraction, this is an encouraging development. But the headwinds from weakening global trade, growing trade tensions and shrinking order books have not gone away.”

Focusing on the picture in Europe, he said that European airlines posted a 3.6% increase in freight demand in March 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier.

Given the weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters in Germany, and uncertainty over Brexit, March’s performance represents a positive outcome, Mr de Juniac concluded.

Last reviewed 14 May 2019